An Imam teaching in Islampura Jama
Masjid in Dalal Ghat, Azamgarh city
Azamgarh (Uttar Pradesh): Amid the mushrooming convent schools, mosques still
continue to be popular centres of learning at least up to the
primary class level in Uttar Pradesh's Azamgarh district. The
trend is more common in cities and towns where Islamic primary
schools are rare.
There are more than 100 mosques in Azamgarh city and around 40
percent offer primary education. A majority of students in mosques
come from the Muslim community but there are no restrictions on
non-Muslim students taking admission.
The educational system run by mosques provides free education
including in subjects like the Quran, Urdu, elementary
mathematics, Hindi and basic English. There are special classes
for students of other schools who want to learn the Quran and
"Our doors are open for every human being but, in practice, only
Muslim kids come here to study," says Maulana Intekhab Alam Qasimi,
the Imam of Jama Masjid in Azamgarh city.
"Sometimes Hindu students also come to study in mosques, but they
are more interested in the Urdu language and not primary
education," Alam Qasimi, who was appointed as Imam here in 1988,
"Mostly, poor students come here to study as we provide free
education," he said.
"We have taken the initiative to educate every child. Everyone has
to learn how to recognise what is right and what is wrong," he
"Here people are more interested in education in mosques because
they think that reading the Quran is necessary with modern
education," he said.
Another cleric in the district, Maulana Javed Ahmad Qasimi, has
introduced a new trend in the mosque educational system.
He started a madrassa, a special class for learning the Quran for
kids enrolled in other modern schools and an English medium Abu
Bakar Islamic Nursery School - all under one roof.
The Abu Bakar Islamic Nursery School, housed in the basement of
the mosque, was started in March last year. It prepares kids for
higher classes' curriculum based on the Central Board of Secondary
According to Ahmad Qasimi, mosques were centres of learning and
"Mosques are a centre of spirituality and learning both. We can't
limit it," Ahmad Qasimi told IANS.
Qasimi completed his education from Darul Uloom, Deoband, in 1975
and has been serving as the Imam of Islampura Jama Masjid in the
Dalal Ghat area of Azamgarh for the last 20 years.
Ahmad has also initiated a campaign to spread awareness among the
backward Muslims of the area, among whom the education ratio is
"These people were out of touch with the mainstream. We provide
them reading material and dress, with education," he said.
But he didn't agree with the free educational system. "We charge
Rs.30 per student and don't offer free education because people
don't give importance to anything that is free. But if someone is
not able to pay, then we never ask."
"Earlier there was no fee, but students didn't attend school
regularly," he said, adding that class attendence improved after
imposing a fee.
Nausheen Rizwan, a housewife in Azamgarh, sends her two children,
a son and a daughter, to the mosque school.
"I like to send them to the mosque where they can learn both
divine and modern education," she said.
Laraib, an upper kindergarten student of St. Xaviers High School
of Azamgarh, comes to the mosque every afternoon to learn the
Quran. "My mom sends me daily to this mosque and I like to come
here," he said.
(Abu Zafar can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)